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Arts for Martin 2009

January 22, 2009

Unfortunately, I was unexpectedly called away from school for personal reasons on Friday last week, and I was unable to attend the annual ARTech event to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King.

I was disappointed to miss out on this event.   As an immigrant to this country, I’ve always been fascinated by the impact Martin Luther King had in shaping the countries direction over the past few decades.   On my first road trip in across the United States in 1988, I visited MLK landmarks in Montgomery and Atlanta.   I still have the battered copy of  Garrow’s excellent King biography Bearing The Cross that I read that summer.

I had the good fortune to attend the celebration two years ago, in my capacity as fourth and fifth grade teacher at Prairie Creek.     I was struck that evening by the community spirit of the event, and the diverse and exciting array of artistic talent that Bob had assembled.  I was looking forward to seeing the PCCS kids participate once again, this time singing the song Calypso Freedom under the direction of music teacher Rachel Geffers.  Michelle Martin, teacher of the Elms, wrote an eloquent reflection on the evening’s events on her class blog.

This time, I was much more cognisant of the preparations that were underway weeks ahead of time.  On many occasion over the past few months, I’ve watched the marvelously creative Charisse Ponder preparing the ARTech dance ensemble.  As always, I was intrigued to see what Bob would come up with. This time, his group of ARTech actors were presenting Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches.   Rumor has it that they just about stole the show!  They had some competition, though.  Our very own Diego was there with his troupe of Aztec dancers – a sight to behold, by all accounts.   They will perform again for our community at an All School Gathering if I have anything to do with it!

The rest of the line-up read like a who’s who of respected musicians, singers, writers, artists and educators from our community.    There were theater students from St. Olaf,  student singers from Northfield High School,  an excerpt from Marilyn Nelson’s Fortune’s Bones read by local poet Rob Hardy (it’s worth checking out Rob’s excellent blog, Rough Draft),  words from St. Olaf professor Joseph Mbele… and so much more.   I was amazed to hear from Bob that he managed to fit it all in within a two hour time slot! 

Thankfully, Sarah took photographs to share.  I’d watched Tokala working on the backdrop painting of MLK, but it was wonderful to see just how striking it was behind each of the performing artists.  Check out the full set of photos for yourself on the link to the right of this posting.  You can also see a full page spread of photos in this week’s Northfield News.

This event has become an ARTech institution and I’m sure the evening must have particularly resonated as it took place just prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration as this countries first African-American President.  

We’re immensely grateful to all the artists who braved a chilly evening to participate.  

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